Saturday, November 06, 2010

More Teachable Moments

This is the obituary of a young women who lived her entire - almost 26 year old life - struggling to breathe. It would be hard to disagree that no one could blame her if she chose to take what was left of her life and live it  out as a bitter person full of "what if's" and stories of her pain. She did not. I've copied her obituary below ... now Google her name -Eva Dien Markvoort - and get inspired! She recorded her last days in a YouTube video. I encourage you to watch it and learn something valuable. Tragedy has hit your family, but as long as you have breath (even painful breath) you can LIVE!

Eva's Obituary

Eva Dien Brine Markvoort … what a life! She lived passionately, with purpose, and died on Saturday, March 27, 2010. She left a legacy of love and made a difference in the lives of thousands of people both in her personal life and in her online community. Eva’s life, almost 26 years long, was defined by her challenges related to cystic fibrosis. She knew how to live for the moment and her magnetic personality drew people in at every turn. Eva took nothing for granted and she had no time for complainers. Her life was full of vibrant moments and she appreciated all the beautiful aspects of her surroundings, constantly adjusting to the limitations presented by her health. Eva filled every room she entered, she engaged herself in the present and she learned to turn the most challenging situations into positive experiences. She was a force! Eva has enriched the lives of her parents, Janet Brine and Bill Markvoort, her siblings Annie and Hunter, her loving extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, and her dearest core ‘team’. Eva's family expresses their gratitude for the tremendous support provided by friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, the medical team, and Eva's online community.


Eva's blog chronicled her life: http://65redroses.livejournal.com/2010/04/07/

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fleeting and Fragile

Most disturbing experience today.

I tried to rescue this beautiful bird who had been wounded tonight. It looked like a small duck and huddled against the white line. Okay, I'll be honest, when I first drove by it looked like a squirrel that was severely injured and so I looped around intending to *help* it out of its misery. I wouldn't have been able to sleep knowing I had left it to die a slow death in the road on a cold Halloween night. As I looped around, I saw it was actually a beautiful bird ... It was adorable and duck-like, so I decided to rescue it. I parked, climbed a small embankment and walked right up to the little guy when a truck veered and ran over its head. I saw the little life practically jump out of its body and it was just horrible. I couldn't believe that I was so close to helping it and now it was dead. I got back in the car and just trembled with grief and regret and anger. I was angry at the truck driver, I was angry at myself for failing, I was angry because I felt so sad over this little life and no one would understand. They'd say, "It was just a bird" or "that truck driver put it out of its misery" or "it probably would have died anyway."  They would have been missing the point!

I don't know how this triggered memories of my children, but I was reminded of my failure to rescue them, too,  and I just broke down. As I cried for the bird, I cried for my children. My son kept asking what was wrong, but I couldn't snap out of it ... I told him what happened to the bird and he just said, "I'll help you mommy. I'll give you a hug. You'll be okay because I'll help you mommy. When we get home, I'm going to hug you and be with you ..." I simply said, "okay".  And that's just what he did.

I took some life lessons out of this experience.

1. Life is fragile and fleeting. Sometimes even our best efforts won't restrain death when it's time for the spirit to leave the body. We can't take life back once its gone and maybe that's what hurts the most ... that it's so completely out of our hands. The flip side of that thought is we have to get to a place where we can admit that wielding the power of life and death is God's responsibility. It's too weighty a sword to bear. Even through the hurt we can be comforted because He knows the beginning and the end and if we hang with Him, we'll get answers AND a happy reunion with our little ones.

2. Hearing a word of encouragement from someone who loves us is indispensable. When we're sad and a loved one tries to throw us a rope, we can choose NOT to get offended because they want us to feel better. We need to reach out, grab that rope and hang on for dear life. Or else, drown in our sorrows.

3. I am all for being positive and looking forward, but that does not mean I ever mean to suggest we should not feel sad. Sadness is a part of life. But so is happiness. In life, if you're human, you'll experience both. It is better to have a happy life with spurts of sadness, than to have a sad life with spurts of happiness.

As always, share your thoughts!

Hugs!

Monday, October 25, 2010

FREE download of Stolen Angels - this week only!

For Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month, I'm offering a free download of my book Stolen Angels; 25 Stories of Hope after Pregnancy or Infant Loss. Simply fill out the form found here, and type "free download" in the comment box. Emails sent within 24 hours.

 Offer ends 11:59 p.m., Oct., 31, 2010.

No one should experience life's greatest tragedy, but if they do, they should never think they are alone. There is hope and healing after a baby leaves this world too soon.

Hugs!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Complaints

On my Facebook page, I made a post that seems to go completely against what the baby lost community is all about. Before I go *there* let me share 2 cents about me and what gave me the nerve (lol) to crash that party. First, I'm the mother of 3 stolen angels - Christopher (part I and II, Kasimir, and Elyana. I've been a bereavement counselor for 4 years, facilitate a parents grief support group for an Army base also for 4 years, am a member of the bereavement support committee at an Army hospital, authored the book, Stolen Angels: 25 stories of Hope, am on the board of directors of the Aneysha Foundation for Fibroids and I'll graduate as a marital and family therapist in June. That was a mouthful!! I've talked to many, many, many parents and have discovered a few things. If you're willing - and this sounds crazy, but - close your heart and open your mind, I think you'll discover something exciting!

Hurting parents - moms in particular - just want someone to understand her story. We just want someone to really *get* our day-to-day experience without judging or trying to change us. We just want to be around others who can appreciate just how deep this loss feels. We feel lonely and misunderstood because oftentimes family and friends and -let's be real - society in general - acts like this is not a big deal. So, yes, we need each other. But in our search for validation and understanding, be careful of the voices you allow in. Words have power. The words you listen to and the words you speak guide your future. I can't stress that enough. Here's an example that I think (hope) makes my point more clear.


Let's say you are training for a marathon, so you recruit a few buddies to train for the big event with you. The purpose of such training groups are to motivate each other to go faster, further, and essentially stay in the race. The idea is that each others' attitudes are contagious. When one feels weak, the others say, "come on - we're going to make it!" They holler, "Just one more mile, keep moving your feet!"


Now what if your group of training partners spill words like, "this is too hard," "I can't make it," "I hurt too much to go on" ... or what if they spend your training time constantly talking about how rough this marathon training has been/will be. Will you finish strong surrounded by a group like this? Now, leave your heart at the end of this sentence. Don't try to "feel" your way through that question. Use your logic. Will you finish STRONG surrounded by a group like this?

Probably not.

Now, CAN you still finish ...? I'd say yes, but you certainly will face additional challenges along the way. I mean! This is the race of your life! We're talking miles and miles and miles - often low crawling - over hot coals and broken glass! Do we really need *additional challenges*!??


Okay. Let's get to it. Here's the bottom line, in-your-face-honest-to-goodness-truth: It is derniddally (yes a word I made up!) near impossible to find joy and healing if your support network is a group of sad people who also complain a lot. Do not interpret this to mean that the injustice of losing a baby isn't real, incredibly intense and life changing. Do not interpret this to mean that there is such thing as "getting over it" or that your complaints are not valid. They are.

In another post, I'll share further about things we should NOT say or dare listen to!

Until then,

Hugs!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Depression

There's a difference between clinical depression and the intense sadness you get after your baby is gone. Medical professionals often try to medicate a mom who is experiencing sadness just 6 months later. Being sad for a year is normal! Parents (sadly) have to stare grief in the face and work through the whirl of intense emotions that go along with it. I'll tell ya what. Unless a mom is willing to stay on anti-depressants forever, that grief is going to be waiting once the last artificial hormone leaves her body.

My advice to you

  • Survive the tough days, weeks, and months ahead by setting aside time each day to grieve. Let yourself really feel the hurt and channel it through exercise, writing, prayer, shouting - whatever provides a release.
  • Cast off anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. These are black reactions that block healing and hinder your prayers.
  • Search out any happy or hope-filled thought and cling to it. Thoughts about your tragedy do invade many peaceful moments ... it is hard to quell those longings to hold your precious baby in your arms, but it's also true that meditating on these painful thoughts does not make you feel well. If it is indeed wellness you seek, heed my advice, friend!
  • Find at least one person who has walked a mile in your shoes and who has learned to live a full and joy-filled life (ahem ... my contact info is printed on this blog ... but there are others!)
  • Find a purpose for living that is larger than your immediate family. There is a hurting world outside of your four walls, step out there, look around and help a person or group in need. You'll be amazed at how deeply your broken heart will be affected - for the better!
  • Write. Write every fear, emotion, and reaction. Write about everything or nothing. Here's a previous post about how writing and words  heal.
  • Check out my YouTube video on the signs and symptoms  of depression.
As a side note, here's an article I found today that talks about some surprising signs that often go unnoticed.

Hugs!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Mark your calendars ... it is that time of year again. Please join parents of stolen angels from all over the globe as we acknowledge our children who were gone too soon.  I've been busy planning a remembrance ceremony for this area. We've reserved a local chapel, lined up a guest speaker, and contacted the media ... programs are printed, food is ordered and this event is a wonderful way for parents to publicly remember their precious babies and connect with other parents at the same time.

Check this listing to find a ceremony in your area or use this guide to plan your own!  If you're stuck home that day, please light a candle and say a prayer for those who have loved and lost an *angel* ...

Hugs!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

We're on YouTube

We're debuting the new YouTube channel ... I've uploaded a few videos discussing topics I think are important to the baby loss community. Check it out and please, share your thoughts!



Click here to go to our YouTube channel
 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm Positive Because ...

  • I have to give my losses a meaning besides "it's meaningless."
  • I want to smile again.
  • I want to find reasons to laugh.
  • I want to enjoy time with family and friends without waiting for them to provide the type of support that only comes from people who've "been there."
  • If it's all I can find, I'll cling to the final grain of hope that tells me tomorrow or some future day has to be better than today.
  • I don't know about you, but every cell in my body craves to be free of this pain.
  • I find no comfort in depression.
  • There's no freedom in suffering.
  • There's no hope in hurting.
  • I have to find ways to create a positive space ... I need to shove this pain aside just long enough to let positive thoughts wriggle their way into my life. If I only think about what can never change, my heart can't heal.
  • I acknowledge that I can't do this in my own strength. I need you, Lord, to be the Lifter of my head. Let me find strength in Your joy.

My life is forever changed. I can never be who I was, but no one says I can't be better than before. I AM a better person than before my babies died. My love has depth now. My compassion feels endless at times. I no longer avoid those who suffer ... I reach out and never say, "if there's anything I can do ..." now, I see a need and just do it. Prayers are no longer empty words thrust into the air ... I now have a mission bigger than myself. I have a life dedicated to the service of others. I'm happy. I'm blessed.

Life now has meaning and it began with a positive thought.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Movin' on UP!

I'm happy to share and celebrate an Amazon milestone! Recently we've begun sharing Stolen Angels directly with more individuals and our bestsellers rank has shifted more than 200, 000 spots moving us from 1 million to a little more than 800K. I celebrate because this means more hurting parents are getting their hands on this resource and our efforts to get the word out are working!

There are more than 7 million books available for sale on Amazon, so this is no easy feat. I thank God! Leave a comment if Stolen Angels has been helpful for you ... you're comments keep the fires burning!

Hugs!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Straight Shootin'

I noticed some trends in the grief community that deserve a second look. Before we go there, I gotta admit that it's not easy to shake a cat in a bag! I'm going to ask you to reconsider some long-held beliefs - beliefs I used to share. But hey. The best way to shoot a gun is to shoot it straight. So, here goes.

As Christians there are some things we can't do. Okay, I know that that nugget isn't a shocker when we're talking about premarital sex or stealing, but what about the more subtle things like ... grieving forever. Some argue that it is okay for the Christian to grieve forever. Before you scramble for the mouse to click away from my blog, let's explore this a sec. I am quick to admit that the inability to bear a child is one of life's greatest tragedies. I often defer to the Bible to back me up on that one ... it states (in my words) there are 3 things that disquiet the earth, but the fourth the earth can't even bear. And guess what that fourth thing is?? Our experiences demonstrate it and the Bible proves it, so there is no argument that the loss of a baby/infertility are life altering events (and that's stating it without the full flavor it deserves!!). Now back to my point.

Even after experiencing a life event that rolls you flat, the Christian woman was never intended to stay in that crippled state for the rest of her life. If she handles her grief just as her non-Christian counterparts handle their grief, does it prove that finally there is a hurt too big for God to heal?

I had a 10 day old son. I had a 2 day old son. I had a baby girl born "with wings" ... (they were not triplets) ... I spent 5 long years as a childless mother. Sometimes I miss my li'l angels so much I can only let out a shout. When I say I grieved - Oh. I. Grieved. But I can tell you this ... I do not grieve any longer. It was when I finally moved past praying for help (often done with great passion, mind you) to actually walking out the principles God demonstrates through His word, that I received the "elusive" healing I craved.

I have soooo much more to share on this! Comment further!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Will the Pain Last Always??

How not to help.

The average person considers infant/pregnancy loss issues topics not fit for open discussion. It's a life event that goes against nature and is sooo very sad - people just don't want to deal with it. Family wants the parent to "get over it" so that they (the family member) will feel better sooner. Sometimes family members will even get ugly because when the bereaved doesn't "move on" fast enough, they (the family member) either think the bereaved is overreacting or simply grow tired of the frequent tragic reminders at family gatherings. Friends usually consider it an awkward situation because they don't know what to say or do, so they find themselves avoiding rather than risk hurting their friend more. So on top of everything else, the hurting parent ends up feeling alone and misunderstood.

It hurts beyond words when the life of someone you love to the point of dying yourself is not validated by others. The parent wonders how people could pretend baby didn't exist when the agony of baby's absence has stolen the oxygen from air, the flavor from food, and the zest from life!

The pain.

After an infant loss, stillbirth, or miscarriage, most parents only have memories from the pregnancy, some ultrasound photos, maybe pictures from the day when baby passed away, a memory box, and not much else. What is she left with?

The pain.

That pain becomes her constant companion and over time, I think the love for baby and the pain become so closely intertwined that she makes them one and the same. The intense pain becomes a reflection of her love. So when you talk about letting go of the pain, she - probably on a subconscious level - associates that with letting go of her baby. And NO, she would never do that! Why should she have to?

I'm here to argue that the pain of grief and the love for baby are not one and the same. God designed our bodies to endure and heal from even the most absurd pain ... the most twisted injury. We were not built to grieve for the rest of our lives. Hurting mothers can heal, but it requires her to painstakingly peel back the barbed tendrils of pain so that her heart is free to forgive and make a difference in her life and the lives of others.

I want to talk about this more in a future posting. Share your questions and comments.

Friday, August 27, 2010

I've Got the Blues

August 29th marks the 8th birth date anniversary of my first living child - Christopher. Oh I feel the usual indescribable - sometimes subtle - reactions to this special date. I think about the first year and I remember my husband and I crying all day. In following years I used to feel depressed, hopeless, and lonely. The weight of grief blotted any joy from my life. I've done a ton of intense grief work since then, so angel-versary's look and feel differently now. Maybe you can even recognize some of these symptoms as your own angel-versary comes around.

Signs of the Blues

I'm craving sugar. We're not talking about the occasional cookie here, folks. I bought a package of chocolate mint cookies and shared 6 with other people. Sadly, I ate the rest. In less than 24 hours. Then I made a chocolate smoothie and ate a piece of banana bread. I've been fantasizing about rum cake, Blizzard treats, caramel sundaes. Weird because I'm lactose intolerant.

I'm sleepy. Constantly. I know it is only the grace of God that allows me to get through each very sleep-deprived day.

Emotions are all over the place. I'm sad, confused, down, up, reading too much into things. I sigh alot and when asked what's wrong, I say "nothing" and "never mind" way too much. Half the time I honestly don't know how to answer!

Not focused. I have a ton of things to do, but can't seem to keep myself from flitting from one unfinished task to the next. Very unproductive and forgetful (and it's 10:45 p.m. and there's still a load of wet laundry sitting in the washer from this morning ... and two unfolded loads on the couch!). I even forgot to make dinner tonight (maybe I was full from my sugar escapade)!

Baby obsessed. I can't stop thinking about having another baby. So far I've been able to force myself to harass my husband about it, but it's been hard.

Sooooooo, how do you know when you've got the baby blues??

Hugs!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Matters of Faith

Some parents wonder if their thoughts, doubts, or decisions about "what's next" mean they lack faith. One mom has a baby on life support but agonizes over whether it is appropriate to discuss the possibility that her little one might not survive. Another mom wants to stop life support but other family members urge her to reconsider. Still another parent is scared to try to heal her child's condition naturally. These are all weighty matters that hang about each parent's neck and shoulders like an immovable stone cross.

If I stop life support does it mean I have given up?
Can God still provide a miraculous healing regardless of the treatment I choose?
If He does not, does it mean I lacked faith?
If I talk about death or dying does it mean I don't believe God for a cure?

Here are my thoughts. I don't think that believing death could happen is a sign that your faith is weak. I don't believe that your faith was insufficient if you believed God for a miracle and your baby died. Both Sarah and Abraham had moments of disbelief when told they would have a son. They even "messed up" by taking matters into their own hands and even laughing at the prophesy, but it did not block their blessing. Granted, God spoke to Abraham and even sent angels to reinforce the message ... most parents have not heard a direct word from God or from one of His messengers. But we do have the Word of God which can and should be applied liberally to our lives. There are countless scriptures that promise healing, help, comfort, children, blessings, warnings, etc. Find them and read them aloud, often. I also believe there is power in the words we speak, so watch what you say. If you have conflicting thoughts about what's next, pray! And listen for the response. Fast when you pray for even more clarity.

We've been encouraged to have faith as a mustard seed. A mustard seed is such a tiny thing, but when given the chance to take root and grow it turns into a huge plant which is well known for diverse uses and its amazing flavor. The same is true for our faith. It is whatever it is right now. Maybe your faith is even minuscule like a mustard seed, but God says that's all you need! If you allow the seed of faith to take root, develop and grow, it will transform into an amazing tool that has many uses. Among the most coveted is its ability to sustain you when nothing else can.

Until then, partner with someone who can and will believe for you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spin

If you're a grieving parent, I encourage you to try something new this week. Here's my suggestion:

Help someone.

You may or may not be on the receiving end of a supportive network of family and friends. But many hurting parents have an extremely difficult time seeing outside the walls of their pain. I've personally seen people flourish in spite of their pain. These are just everyday people who decided to to reach out although death has stolen their angels. Connect with them and read their stories (links provided below). Others have created media empires as they reached out to others ... John Walsh of America's Most Wanted fame comes to mind.

As for me, before I even wrote Stolen Angels I sat with a woman as she delivered her stillborn baby ... I also volunteered to be a bereavement support group facilitator for military families. In addition to writing Stolen Angels, these became outlets where I could make a huge impact and I believe losing our children wasn't in vain.

Your efforts don't have to be on such a grand scale as John Walsh's. The stories and links I provide here are about those who gave back in the area of infant and pregnancy loss ... You might decide to do something in a completely unrelated field. It's all up to you ... open your eyes ... look around ... there is a community of people who could use a helping hand.

Stories of people just like you:

Carly
Megan

Monday, July 05, 2010

Words of Encouragment

Originally written for Christy's blog at http://www.safe-haven-blog.blogspot.com
----



The old well-worn words of encouragement from your Christian brothers and sisters might not provide the comfort intended. I hesitate to label them “clich├ęs” simply because scripture is truth and food for the mind, body and soul - no matter how well-rehearsed or ill-timed the delivery may be. Sometimes when grief is fresh you don’t want to hear that “your child is better off,” “she’s with Jesus now,” “you’ll see him again one day,” “you’ll always hold her in your heart,” “God never places more on you than you can bear,” and so on and on and on.

Sometimes you want to hear, “I’ve been there and it won’t always hurt this bad,” “It’s okay to get mad, have questions, and have doubts ... it’s okay to scream,” doubts are normal and it doesn’t cancel out your faith,” “with me, you don’t have to be strong. You can cry, and snot, or thrash on the floor … it’s okay.” “I’ll help you get through today.”

Sometimes complete and total acceptance of your grief experience is all you need to get through some of the tough days and weeks ahead. Other times a simple hug will do. Don’t worry about being strong or acting spiritual. Don’t let the burden of others’ expectations stifle you. If there isn’t a safe outlet to express the hurt or tough questions then journal, join a support group or an online community.

I’ve been there and it won’t always hurt this bad. It is a harrowing journey chocked full of briar patches and pits of despair, but one day you’ll catch yourself smiling. It may just be the same day you found comfort knowing your precious baby is safely tucked in Jesus’ arms.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Safe Haven Blog

Most people avoid reading or learning more about infant and pregnancy loss because it is a painful subject. I don't think these people are trying to be uncaring, they just don't know what to say, how to say what they feel, but immersing self in the world of parental grief is heavy stuff.

I had the pleasure of meeting a woman who has a heart for hurting parents. She has never lost a baby herself, but saw a need in the grieving community and has stepped in to fill it. She maintains a blog exclusively for parents with sick or dying children ... she devotes hours of her day to updating others in the blogosphere of these parent's and special children's needs and prayer requests. When you have a moment visit her blog, and write a few kind words. In this line of work, every kind word goes far.

http://safe-haven-blog.blogspot.com

Blessings!

Sharee

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Foundation of Faith

I originally wrote this for Christy's blog at http://safe-haven-blog.blogspot.com/
--

When going through a hard time, I instinctively know how to cling to God as though my life depends on it. It was while my first son fought for his next breath that I learned how to pray without ceasing. But I don’t think I really knew how to build a foundation of faith until after my second baby died.

Now, it wasn’t until after our third baby died, that I realized the importance of building that foundation before tragedy strikes. I’ve outlined some steps I took to set my anchor – my life – in the rock that is Jesus Christ and hope to share a bit of my journey.

Read the Word of God. Pull up your sleeves, tune out those pesky distractions and immerse yourself in the Bible. In it are the literal keys to your life, so prayerfully ask God to unlock the truths you’ll need to embrace, so that you can know Him and He can transform you.
Remember what you read and look for opportunities to apply it to the situations you encounter throughout your daily life. If you read about patience than YES the lesson still applies whether you are in rush-hour traffic or if you struggle with infertility or insensitive doctors in the NICU.
Take your focus off of self. Don’t interpret this to mean neglect yourself. It just means take breaks from intense mental focus on your personal woes. Yes, grief is incredibly painful and draining and the process does require your careful attention. BUT, allow yourself to care about others and what they are experiencing, as well. If a quick prayer on their behalf is all you have the energy for – do what you can. When you can do more – do more. Read about situations in which Jesus grieved and follow His example. Three examples that stand out for me are when Jesus learned of the deaths of John the Baptist, Lazarus, and when He was on the cross. There are other examples in scripture, as well.
Pray, pray, pray. Spend time in meaningful prayer. Sometimes just thank God for being God and don’t ask him for a thing. Ask Him to teach you and guide you. Ask for help; for strength. Open your soul to Him. I think the book of Psalm is such a powerful example of how we can talk to God.
Decide to trust God and stick by Him no matter what happens next. Read Romans 8:28.

So I encourage you to build your faith on The Rock. If you put your faith in experts, family, modern medicine, or things – those foundations are destined to eventually fail. If you put your faith in prayer – without an actual faith in God - you will be crushed if you don’t receive the answers you expect.

For with God, nothing is impossible!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stuff a Cookie in the Void??

I originally wrote this post in 2006, but wanted to revisit it here. How many of you have tried to fill the void with unhealthy or unhelpful things? Here's my struggle ...
---

I'm embarrassed to fess up to how many bags of Nestle Treasures (the caramel filled kind), peanut M&M's (they even have a 5 pound bag ...), 13X9 pans of brownies, break n bake cookies and even buttermilk biscuits slathered in honey butter I have eaten ~ by myself ~ while trudging the lonely grief path. I'm finishing up a batch of break n bakes right now and can tell you with 100% certainty that a cookie really won't make you feel better.

Sadly, I'm a grief expert. It's been four years since our first brush with infant loss and 8 months since our last. I've talked to countless women who are facing what you are facing now and lemme tell you, most moms usually feel like a failure after their baby has died. Her self-esteem really takes a beating. In her mind, she failed at one of life's most important jobs ~ protecting her baby. Why add junk-food pounds to an already lowered self-image?

Just keeping it real ... there is a difference between holding on to a little after-the-baby-weight when you have a baby to show for it. Everyone is very understanding about that. For me, when I had nothing to show for all those hips and curves, it's like I was fat for no reason. I felt this constant urge to explain or "apologize" for how I looked and the extra pounds, compounded by my "failure," made me feel absolutely worthless. Here's a more constructive way to relieve stress:

Hey ... I still indulge in my cookie-fix, but I balance it. Every morning I walk my dog and I also started running again. Exercise has been so therapeutic for me! Charging up hills 3 days a week has made my body stronger, built my confidence and has slimmed everything from the belly button down. For a customized running plan visit www.runnersworld.com then click on “Training.” I also have increased my veggies and fruits. My goal is to hit at least 5 a day. Visit www.5aday.gov/index.html for tips about how to squeeze 'em in. Finally, I pay close attention to my blood pressure and have recently gotten my cholesterol level checked. (I am not affiliated with any of the organizations I link to on my site)

Today, I reached for the break n bake cookies, but I really should have cried out to Jesus in my despair. After spending the last two days with other people's children, I felt so aware of my childless state. I felt the painful emptiness coursing through my body and I said to myself hmpf. I deserve a treat. Those cookies sure do taste good, but they can never fill the hole left in my heart and my life. Only Jesus can do that.

I'd love to hear about how you are handling your loss. Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment.

Hugs,
Sharee

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Shred of Hope

I don't know if there are too many things more painful - more lonesome - than being a married woman who wants children yet her body won't cooperate. I remember feeling like a failure as a woman, wife, mother ... human being. It was one thing to have two of my sons be expelled from my womb (they were born premature) ... it was something else to experience the stillbirth of my daughter. I felt 150% responsible for her death and couldn't imagine how I'd ever recover from the feelings of intense guilt and grief .

A dear friend once shared that we can recover from just about anything as long as we cling to at least a shred of hope. In my own moments of sadness, I found promises found in the Word have been like a life preserver to my drowning hope or faith.

Here's a word of encouragment:

Every one who fears the Lord and walks in His ways is blessed. Further, you'll be happy and all will be well. (And for the men) your wives will be a fruitful vine and your CHILDREN will be like olive plants around the table ... this is what a man will have who fears the Lord! It gets even better ... there will be children AND grandchildren! This scripture comforted me greatly and really buoyed my hope and faith that one day I'd be blessed and a mother simply because my husband was faithful to God! (Read Psalm 128 for the exact scripture)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Secrets for Healing #2

When I couldn't write, I would begin to pour out my heart through a conversation with God. I would literally bare my soul as I cried out to him with words that seemed to have no meaning. But He understood - He understands. It might not come as a surprise that the spoken word is another secret to healing. Isn't it amazing how we can speak things into our lives?

You may have heard the term, "self-fulfilling prophesy"? When a person repeatedly declares something, it usually becomes true - for that person. This seems to be factual for people regardless of their religious affiliation or views. The person who argues, "I can't lose weight," "I can't find a good or godly man," "I can't do this," etc. usually finds out that they are right! The same principle applies in grief work.

People will argue, "The pain never goes away," "My life will NEVER be better," "I'll never be happy again," or "I will never be a mother" ... and as she continues to speak those words into her life, it becomes true. Her joy is fleeting, she is plagued by depression, she becomes alienated as she loses friends and close relationships because her pain is so intense and no one seems to understand.

I'm not suggesting that grieving parents should say, "I'm happy" (although they could say it) when they are not. I am encouraging parents to reframe their words so that they don't trigger such a negative outcome.

Instead of: "The pain will never go away"
Try: "I don't know how this pain will be relieved"

Instead of: "I'll always be depressed"
Try: "I feel depressed right now"

Instead of: "No one understands"
Try: "I want to find someone who understands"

Instead of: "I'll never be a mother/father"
Try: "I want to be a mother/father!"

If you doubt the power of words reflect on this:


God SPOKE all of creation into existence. If you
invited God to live inside of you, doesn't that mean you also can speak some things into existence??


Share your thoughts.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Secrets for Healing #1

After my daughter, Elyana, died, I learned one of many secrets about how to heal a broken heart. The secret I will share here is simple, yet can get pretty complex rather quickly. If you want to release the painful feelings that often go along with grief here's what to do:



  1. Grab a pen and notebook.


  2. Start writing your baby's story. You can start where you feel most comfortable, but some have found it's easiest to begin - well, at the beginning. Try describing your pregnancy or time of life before things went terribly wrong. As your story moves forward, you may find your emotions grow more intense. When I wrote my babies' stories for my book Stolen Angels, I found that there were times when I couldn't even see the paper and could barely hold the pen because I was crying and shaking so much. This is when the writing process becomes more complex.


  3. Write through the pain. There might be memories you don't want to face. Emotions you don't want to process. You might be shocked by thoughts you don't know you have. But, keep writing. Grief work is hard work. You can't run from it, and you can't hide from it, but like a cornered animal you must put your back against the wall and fight your way out!

  4. After you write your baby's entire story, keep your notebook handy and continue to reflect on your feelings, hopes, sorrows, experiences at least once each day. The key is to stay in touch with how you feel - getting it outside of yourself, rather than keeping it inside. story

  5. Write this at the top of your first page - believe it - and refer to it often:


"Grief hurts me, it scars me, but I WILL survive today,
and Grief will not destroy me."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another Law of the Universe

Stay encouraged! Did you know that your tears are not in vain? God sees them, he bottles them, he records each tear in His book AND not only that ... God promises that we will reap JOY for all those fallen tears.

You can harbor hope knowing that although we won't forget our babies, God never intended for us to live in misery for the rest of our lives. I encourage you to let God heal your heart and swap your sorrow for joy. It never happens overnight, but as we learn to live for Him and do His will in the earth, we can claim with confidence EVERY promise written in His book. He never lies.

Write me or post a comment if you need help claiming the promises God has for you!

Blessings!

P.S. You can't claim promises you don't know about. Check out the scriptures that support what I've written.

He bottles our tears. Pslm 56:8
He writes each tear in His book. Pslm 56:8
He'll turn our tears of sorrow into joy. Pslm 126:5